Conservation of the « Rijmbijbel »

7th of September 2016

Jacob van Maerlant’s Rijmbijbel, a 13th century codex containing a Bible in rhyme, is considered to be the oldest illuminated manuscript in the Dutch language. Its luxurious character and the richness of its illumination confer rank it as one of the most precious manuscripts in the world.

More than a quarter of a century ago, it was noticed that flakes of the gold leaf – which the miniatures contain a great deal of – were becoming detached from the pictorial layers. As the conservation techniques available at the time proved to be inappropriate, the decision was taken to postpone conservation. The serious risk of losing fragments of the gold and the pigments, even when carefully turning the pages, has meant that any consultation of the manuscript has been out of the question.

Now, thanks to financial support from the "Fonds Abbé Manoël de la Serna", managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, conservation treatment using the appropriate technology can be carried out at the Royal Library in the coming months.

Text: Royal Library